How to Deal With Noisy Upstairs Neighbors: 8 Fiercely Clever Tricks

Deal Score+58
Deal Score+58

Shortly after their marriage, Brittany H. and her husband moved into an apartment in Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood. With Victorian houses and vintage apartments dotting the tree-lined streets, they thought their new home would be a peaceful place to build their lives together.

But the couple got more than they bargained for. At all hours of the night, they could hear strange and very loud noises from their upstairs neighbors.

Brittany vividly recalls her first night in the unit.” It was midnight, and the upstairs neighbors sounded like they were throwing bricks on the floor. The light fixtures in our ceiling rattled over the noisy pounding.”

When their lease was up, the couple quickly moved to the top floor of another apartment building – and Brittany says she’ll never live anywhere but the top floor again.

As a renter, you have to be prepared for some of the everyday noise that is just part of living in close proximity to other people. So, how do you reduce the noise from your upstairs neighbors?

Well, if your walls are particularly thin or your neighbors are particularly noisy (looking at you, noisy upstairs neighbor drum guy), are you doomed to a life of permanent earplugs or complaints to the police?

We’re not going to lie: signing a lease may limit what you can do to completely soundproof your apartment. But thankfully, there are a few simple tricks to drown out the noise of your upstairs neighbors without driving your landlord crazy.

What to do about noisy upstairs neighbors? How to reduce noise

Here are some of our favorites for dealing with loud upstairs neighbors (so you won’t have to call the police).

1. Try ceiling clouds and acoustic fixtures

What to say now? Ceiling clouds are sound absorbing panels suspended from the ceiling that reduce noise and echoes. (Science!) Take that, noisy upstairs neighbors.

You’ve probably seen them in auditoriums, atriums and restaurants. But they can also do wonders for reducing noise in your home.

Just be sure to check with your landlord before installing them, as they need to be securely mounted on the ceiling.

If your landlord doesn’t agree, there are other less invasive ways to muffle sound, including acoustic light fixtures that claim to absorb sound.

2. Rearrange your furniture

Have you ever lived next to a neighbor who played the piano (or worse, the amplified electric guitar) past their bedtime?

You don’t have to move (or complain to your landlord or the police) if your neighbor doesn’t approve. Just put a few things between you and the commotion next door.

First, place a bookcase or other heavy furniture against the partition wall, covering as much of the wall as possible.

“The more mass you have between you and your neighbor, the less sound will come through,” says Zach Ziskin, a recording engineer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Then, rearrange fabric-covered sofas or chairs so they’re close to windows and doors. For even more quiet, use plenty of decorative pillows and blankets.

“The heavier and denser the textile, the better the absorption,” says Heather Humphrey, owner of interior design firm Alder & Tweed in Park City, Utah.

3. Fill up your bathroom

If you can hear your neighbors flushing the toilet, they can probably hear you too, right? That’s because open spaces with tile and hard surfaces, like bathrooms, amplify the sound.

Humphrey suggests that for an upgrade to your privacy, take a cue from tip #2 and put a small linen closet against the wall.

Short on space? Fitting the bathroom with wall coverings and soft items like rugs and towels is a fairly simple way to deal with your upstairs neighbors and their noisy voices.

“The principle is the same,” she says.” The more walls you cover, the greater the sound barrier you create.”

4. Seal the windows

Sometimes, the outside noises you hear in your apartment can be just as annoying as the noises coming from your neighbors. Closing your windows isn’t always a cure-all – the sounds will seep in anyway.

One way to reduce noise? Make sure the window casings and frames are fully caulked and sealed. (Ziskin says, “You can call your landlord and ask about this.” Or use a window casing to make the seal more airtight.

Even simpler? Just hang thick curtains, which will help muffle any noise from outside.

5. Seal the doors

You’d be surprised by how much noise can seep in through the cracks around your door and ruin your quiet. Your best soundproofing efforts will be futile unless you address them.

Make sure there’s high-quality weatherstripping between the door and door frame to create a seal when closed, Ziskin says.

Likewise, if there’s an air gap between the bottom of the door and the floor, attach a heavy-duty door sweep or draft blocker to create a seal.

6. Hang wall art and tapestries

Because wall hangings and tapestries are porous, they can absorb sound and excessive noise.

If the image of a college dorm room comes to mind, don’t worry, there are now a plethora of options that are beautifully on trend.

For example, the heavy knotting of woven pieces makes them perfect for cushioning noise and giving your place a stylish vibe.

Canvas murals can also help absorb sound; consider adding a layer of foam to the hollow interior for extra cushioning. Or try acoustic felt panels – you could even use them for a DIY bulletin board.

“This will add a decorative touch and keep you organized while reducing noise levels,” says Dayna Hairston, an interior designer at Dayziner in Cary, N.C.

7. Add thick rugs with rubber backing

If you have wood floors, do yourself and your neighbors a favor and throw down some area rugs. (If you have carpet, you can do the same; the more padding, the better).

Humphrey recommends looking for thick pile material or something with a rubber backing to muffle the sound when buying carpet.

8. Get to know your neighbors

Of course, it’s not always possible to make your apartment completely soundproof. If you’re still struggling with the urge to pick up a broom and bang on the ceiling, it may be time to talk to the neighbors.

“If all else fails, invest in high-quality earplugs or a white noise machine,” says Ziskin.

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